Firearms and Home Fires Knock Down Kentucky’s State of Safety Report Scores
Although Kentucky ranked overall in the No. 16 slot on the National Safety Council’s annual State-of-Safety Report, the summary concluded that the Commonwealth state has two main areas to improve on when it comes to home and community safety areas out of the 24 indicators grouped under six safety issues: youth sports-related concussions, drowning, older adult falls, firearm fatalities, home fires and poisonings. Report analysts gave Kentucky a “D” score when it comes to:
- Home Fires
Struggling Home and Community Death Safety Areas
More than 70 percent of all deaths from personal injury occur in homes and communities, causing preventable death rates in the U.S. to reach and all-time high with a personal injury death incident every four minutes. In Kentucky, both firearm and home fire fatalities remain to be largely preventable.
According the report statistics, firearms play a role in some 35,000 intentional deaths and 80,000 injuries every year. Additionally, there are more than 350 million guns in circulation in the United States. That is approximately 113 guns for every 100 people and people. The Centers for Disease Control reported 694 deaths from firearms in Kentucky in 2015.
More alarming is that suicide rates are at a 30 year high. And nearly half of those suicides involve the use of a firearm. States implementing universal background checks and mandatory waiting periods prior to the purchase of a firearm show lower rates of suicides than states without this legislation. Suicide is also the 10th leading cause of death in Kentucky and the second leading cause of death in people ages 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In all of Kentucky, suicides outpace homicides by nearly four to one. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact a mental health professional, or call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for help.
The report suggests these safety prevention indicators be set into place:
- Universal background checks at point of transfer (partial credit for handguns only)
- Waiting period for rearm purchases (partial credit for handguns only)
- License or permit + training required for firearm purchase (partial credit for permit only)
- Sharing of mental health records with NICS database be required to prevent access to individuals who are involuntarily committed, subject to a domestic violence protective order, or otherwise prohibited from owning firearms under federal law
- Safe storage law and specific laws reducing child access through safe gun storage
The report also claims, “The overall annual economic impact of all firearm related deaths and injuries is nearly $174 billion in medical and lost productivity costs, criminal justice expenses and lost quality of life.”
- Home Fires
In 2015, home fires claimed nearly 2,600 lives. In 2017 alone, the U.S. Fire Administration has reported 30 home fire fatalities in Kentucky. Smoke inhalation contributes to more home fire deaths than actual burns. Cooking remains the leading cause of residential building fires in which the U.S. Fire Administration has seen 21 percent increase in since 2012.
National estimates for residential building fires and losses in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, are:
- Fires: 380,900
- Deaths: 2,565
- Injuries: 11,475
- Dollar loss: $7,099,300,000
National estimates for the leading causes of fires in residential buildings for 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, are:
- Cooking: 193,400 fires
- Heating: 41,200 fires
- Electrical malfunction: 24,500 fires
- Other unintentional, careless: 24,500 fires
National estimates for the leading causes of residential building fire deaths for 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, are:
- Other unintentional, careless: 440 deaths
- Cause under investigation: 365 deaths
- Smoking: 320 deaths
The National Safety Council report provides the suggestions that these safety prevention indicators be set into place:
- Sprinkler system requirements in new 1 and 2 family homes (although adoption at the municipal level can conflict with state law)
- Smoke alarms with 10-year lifetime batteries required
Where Kentucky Home and Community Safety Indicators Ranked Well
Kentucky did have two large kudos in the areas of poisoning prevention and having strategies and planning in place to reduce youth sports-related concussions.
- Poisonings include deaths from drugs, medicines, other solid and liquid substances, gases and vapors. The major culprit in drug-related deaths is opioid pain relievers, taking 60 lives every single day. Kentucky mandates prescribers use through PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs). Since implementation, the program has resulted in reductions in opioid prescriptions and in patients visiting multiple providers.
- The number of sports-related concussions is highest in high school athletes, yet Kentucky met all indicators needed to rank it in line with being on track. They include having state legislation that has key components of return-to-play laws and provides a plan for concussion recognition and awareness training for coaches.
Both drownings and older adult falls for Kentucky ranked within a developing category meaning the state has at least some safety measures and indicators in place to keep homes and communities safe from deaths related to these injuries.
Choking and mechanical suffocation have become emergent issues across all states as highlighted in the report. Both represent additional leading causes of preventable deaths. Although this year, states were not graded on these issues given the lack of state-level control. Report authors suggests, “CPR and First Aid, which often includes instruction on abdominal thrusts, is included as an indicator under Drowning, which provide skills to prevent choking and impacts home and community safety overall.”
Help Keep Kentucky Homes and Communities Safe
In the areas left for improvements, report organizers suggest that the Commonwealth of Kentucky continue to play a pivotal role in protecting citizens and promoting public health outcomes as it is proven prevention is key. Both legislation and state-level coalitions can help to lessen common risk factors, prevent injuries and fatalities, and ensure better outcomes for all residents.
Sadly, the serious accidents outlined in this report can sometimes result in death because of someone else’s negligence. Wrongful death cases can ensure the victim’s family does not suffer financially while grieving the loss of a loved one. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys can help family members or executors to recover costs for funeral and burial expenses, pre-death medical care, loss of the victim’s financial contribution, loss of the victim’s services and support, loss of the victim’s companionship, and emotional distress of surviving family members. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our Madisonville or Owensboro personal injury attorneys.
*Statistics provided by www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/